My final years of full-time government employment included a stint as regional director of the Empire State Development Corporation.
This gives me a very jaundiced view of the state of Middle Neck Road, particularly from Linden Boulevard and north – all the way to Kings Point.
For over two decades, empty commercial storefronts have dominated the area – some of them covering entire blocks. We all know that commerce has changed and that, regrettably, some local, family-owned businesses cannot endure.
Surely we owe those which remain patronage, help and support, but the “bargains” of on-line and the “big box stores” bear irresistibility to the consumer.
The reputation of Great Neck cannot endure with a commercial strip increasingly resembling the deteriorated Mott Avenue in Far Rockaway (soon to get better there, as it can’t get any worse!).
Elected officials, trustees – but most of all, narrow-minded neighbors in the villages surrounding the Middle Neck Road blight better get with it. A good school system is not enough to secure a desirable future here. The area is in need of high-end multi-family housing along the long strip to accommodate those empty-nesters who sell their homes and basically have 3 choices: North Shore Towers, One Kensington Gate or Manhattan.
This is reality – scores of those stores, including entire buildings, have been unoccupied for over 20 years. They’re not coming back.
These parcels must be rezoned for multi-family entities of three or four stories, appropriately scattered to limit density, but enough to eliminate the current blight and increase our tax base.
The hatred of builders here is not rational. I speak objectively, as I am not a builder and have no “skin in the game.”
This peninsula has a reputation of hostility to improvement and this attitude will ultimately affect all of us.
You basically cannot build anything around here. The only current use for several of these empty storefronts is as temporary, low-fee or free political campaign storefronts.
The beneficiaries of those political victories sit along a very sad concourse – one for which they bear some responsibility.
Jeffrey S. Wiesenfeld